At a recent workshop during an exercise on active listening, participants commented on how easy is to fall into the trap of not REALLY listening to what your prospect says and to assume you know what they need.
The problem is that by filtering what they say and hearing only the information you want to hear, there is a danger that you end up providing the solution you had in mind for them before the meeting rather than hearing actually what is being said and responding with an appropriate solution based on their need.
Not really listening and filtering out key information creates missed opportunities
You miss out on potentially identifying a bigger opportunity and need which you might be able to provide a solution for
You don’t pick up on the finer details of their need which would allow you to provide a more specific solution; and
You potentially lose any rapport that has been built up because you have demonstrated that you have not been listening to what is important to them.
Here are some tips for your next interaction with a prospect:
- Stay focused and listen with the intent to really understand
- Don’t interrupt or complete their answers
- Don’t think about your next question whilst they answer your previous question
- Maintain eye contact and use open and encouraging body language
- Notice what they are visually expressive about as this will indicate what is important to them
- Explore each of their answers fully to gain a deeper level of understanding; and
Summarise what they have said at appropriate times
- To make sure that you have understood correctly what they have been saying
- To show them that you have understood; and
- To show that you are attempting to understand
Adopting an ‘active listening’ approach and demonstrating a genuine interest in your prospect can signal to the prospect that you are someone that they will benefit from working with, in turn it will provide you with a competitive advantage at a crucial stage of the business development process